Churchill on Ice: The 31st Annual Churchill Society Dinner

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On Tuesday we had the pleasure of attending the 31st Annual Churchill Society Dinner, at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel.  The dinner is held each year to celebrate the legacy of Sir Winston Churchill, and to present the Society’s Award of Excellence to an individual that has contributed significantly to the cause of parliamentary democracy in Canada. This year’s award recipient is the Hon. Hugh Segal, whose career has been almost entirely dedicated to public service.

Our evening began with distributing event booklets to each of the dinner tables, allowing us to take in the grandeur of the Royal York’s Concert Hall. As the guests began to arrive our responsibilities shifted to managing the registration desk, which facilitated a unique opportunity to both meet and greet many distinguished individuals. Attendees were then ushered into the reception hall, where they were pleasantly surprised to find a large ice sculpture of Sir Winston Churchill, complete with top hat and cigar.

Once everyone took their seats the Chair of the Churchill Society, Joel Watson, gave a welcoming address that touched on the unique life of Churchill, while poking fun at a few public servants. Guests were then treated to a humorous toast by Peter Mansbridge, followed by several courses of delicious food that were accompanied by beautiful music played by the Governor General’s Horse Guards. Throughout the dinner we also heard introductions and speeches from members of the head table and other prominent guests. The Hon. Jason Kenney began by introducing the evening’s Guest Speaker, Professor Terry Copp. Professor Copp, an esteemed historian, delivered a moving account of Churchill’s participation in the defence of Antwerp in October of 1914, at the outset of World War I.

After dinner Senator Linda Frum took the stage to give an affectionate speech about the Hon. Hugh Segal’s contributions to the Senate of Canada, followed by the presentation of the Churchill Society’s Award of Excellence. Senator Segal, humbled by the award, captivated the audience by offering his perspective on a range of topics, including the recent election in Ontario, the important work conducted by the public service, and recent developments affecting Canada’s foreign policy. Needless to say each of the interns was impressed by his remarks, and the passion Senator Segal has for the promotion of parliamentary democracy.

Ultimately the dinner was a rousing success, and we are all incredibly grateful to the Churchill Society for inviting us. Many of us are also very much looking forward to attending the 32nd Annual Dinner, which is to be held on November 26th, 2015. Finally, we must extend our thanks and appreciation to Joel Watson, Samieh Walden, Alison Matthews, and the rest of the Board for giving us the opportunity to participate in one of the most prestigious events of the year, and for their continued support of the Ontario Legislature Internship Programme.

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